Important Initial Resources
Practical applications of physics education research (PER) are numerous in the literature. Authors of a few short books have collected a variety of research-based techniques and discussed how they can be used in the physics classroom. The books listed below provide applications of PER as well as references to many of the findings of the field.
Knight, R., 2002. Five Easy Lessons: Strategies for Successful Physics Teaching. Addison-Wesley, San Francisco, Calif.
Experienced physics instructor and textbook author Knight discusses some of the core findings of physics education research that directly apply to teaching an introductory quantitative physics course. After a brief overview of some general instructional principles, the rest of the book contains Knight’s recommendations for teaching each of the core content areas of an introductory physics course. His recommendations are based both on the available research literature as well as his extensive teaching experience. Sample activities and homework and test problems are provided.
Mazur, E., 1997. Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, N.J.
Peer Instruction and related techniques are widely known and use research-based instructional strategy for teaching introductory physics. In this book, peer instruction developer Mazur describes the philosophy behind the technique as well as detailed instructions for its implementation. Much of the book contains ConcepTests (multiple-choice conceptual questions to be used during lecture) and conceptually oriented exam questions that can be used by instructors. Mazur uses peer instruction with electronic student response systems (clickers); others have successfully used the strategy with flashcards (Meltzer and Manivannan, 1996).
Redish, E.F., 2003. Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite. John Wiley and Sons, Hoboken, N.J.
Experienced physics instructor and physics education researcher Redish discusses a variety of research-based tools for improving teaching and learning in introductory physics. After summarizing some of the relevant findings from cognitive science, the majority of the book is a discussion about what is involved in the implementation of 11 research-based instructional strategies. Assessing instructional effectiveness and assessing student learning are emphasized.
to a new situation, often supplemented with short written problems that require explanation. (See, for example, Goldberg and McDermott, 1987.) Researchers continue to use this method, along with videotaped group discussions among students or between students and a teacher, to draw inferences about how students are thinking about physics. However, the development of multiple-choice, research-validated conceptual evaluation instruments in the 1980s and 1990s allowed the rapid gathering of data from different colleges and universities, helping to establish the generality of earlier results. The most widely known multiple-choice instrument, the Force Concept Inventory (FCI), was developed based on students’ answers to free-response questions (Hestenes et al., 1992). An example